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Posted by Mariel Bunnage

December 6th 2010

Where did your inspiration to follow the story of C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman and write 'Shadowlands' come from? I am a student at Central School of Speech and Drama and will be doing a project with 'Shadowlands' in the next term and am trying to do as much research as I can into it. Any insight you could provide would be immensely helpful. Thank you, Mariel Bunnage

William Nicholson responded:

I wish I could give you a more inspiring answer, but the CSLewis story was suggested to me by a colleague, I was initially uninterested, and only on being prodded a lot did I turn to it in seriousness. At around that point I think I sensed that the underlying theme - fear of emotional commitment - was one that then resonated with me. My own belief is that the play is more about fear of loving than about dying of cancer. The cancer is in a way a device to develop the emotional journey. And it really happened, of course.

Posted by Carl Jameson

December 5th 2010

Dear William, I was just wondering, where did you go to university, and how did it shape you thoughts and future prospects about becoming a writer? - Carl

William Nicholson responded:

I went to Cambridge University, and studied English Literature. This definitely had a major influence on me, though I wanted to be a writer from many years before. In a way it caused me to write over-pretentiously for some time, as if in an attempt to create works others would study. I had to grow out of that, and get on with writing stories that people actually enjoy. Or so I hope.

Posted by Alix Thomson

December 4th 2010

Hi WIlliam, I read The Wind on Fire Trilogy as a child and loved them. Having recently reread them as an adult(ish) I was wondering if certain aspects of the books have been influenced by your own reading. For instance I would be interested to know if the colour-coded society was influenced by Margaret Attwood's The Handmaid's Tale? Thanks, Alix

William Nicholson responded:

To my shame I've never read Margaret Atwood. I didn't know the Handmaid's Tale had colour coding. I'll read it now. But I'm sure my work has been endlessly influenced by the writers I've read through my life.

Posted by Tim Sherwood

December 1st 2010

I am playing the part of Christopher Riley in Shadowlands in a few weeks time. It's a gift of a role, however I am having a problem with the line "Ye-es. That is rather good", in response to Harrington's ".....fiddle-de-dee and tiddley-push". Can you give me any ideas?

William Nicholson responded:

He's doing that damning-with-faint-praise thing where you kill a joke by not really laughing at it. A mirthless smile. He thinks Harrington's an amiable chump. Hope that helps.

Posted by Sammy

November 30th 2010

I was wondering, how you come up with your stories. I myself am aiming to become a writer, though it's more of a hobby to me than anything else. It has always intrigued me how some people can come up with completely different worlds, and such complicated plots. So far, the one I have been working on most recently isn't quite to my liking. I was wondering if you would part with some of you secrets? -A Reader of Yours -Sammy

William Nicholson responded:

I don't have any secrets, really. I think I build my stories up from small beginnings. I never start with a complicated plot, I start with something very simple, then add ideas as they come. The characters make a big difference, and dictate the way the story goes. But I go on having new ideas throughout the writing process. Which is why I love writing so much.

Posted by Richard Williams

November 30th 2010

Dear William I have just posted this review on Amazon, but thought you'd appreciate seeing it. I discovered a copy of Nicholson's 'The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life' on our bookshelf. I've no idea where it came from, someone probably gave it to us and it was filed under 'may read sometime...' At a loose end, I picked it up one day and couldn't put it down. Nicholson has the ability to capture thoughts and emotions that I know so very well - there are moments when he puts on paper a sentiment that I recognise as being my own. I bought 'All the Hopeful Lovers' (the sequel) immediately. It covers the lives of largely the same characters, eight years onwards and it continues in the same vein. It is simply crafted, almost like a screenplay (he wrote Gladiator, so it's not surprising) and yet, simple though it is in construction, it is touching and thought provoking. He joins my list of favourite modern novelists alongside Helen Dunmore, William Trevor and Penelope Lively. My only gripe? The hardback covers would lead you to think of these as frilly, vacuous, romantic novels. They're not and the books deserve a better representation. William, this last point is important. I don't know how much power you have in deciding what your book jackets are like, but I do think they need to reflect the quality of your writing rather than looking like an airport novel. Thanks for the two very enjoyable books, I look forward to the next one. Kind regards Richard Williams

William Nicholson responded:

I do very much appreciate reading your comments. The problem over the covers - which are decided by the publisher, not me - is that apparently browsing readers make their decision to buy in micro-seconds, based on the cover, and so must be given simple signals. If the day ever comes when readers buy my books because of my name this will cease to be a problem. But right now in an attempt to get me a wider readership my publishers are selling me as slightly superior chick-lit. I don't complain, because I'm so grateful anyone's trying to sell me at all.